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Gardens of Birr Castle Demesne

Listed under Gardens in Tipperary, Ireland.

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Birr Castle Demesne is the kind of destination that can occupy a serious gardener, a landscape designer or family for an entire day. As it is with any family, each generation of owners at Birr has had its own interests, and the result today is a combination of history, plants, astronomy, engineering, and more, all in one place. The Parsons family has lived at Birr since 1620, and the generations have all left their mark on this landscape. The castle (which is the family home, and not open to the public) dates from that time, and the boxwood hedges date from the 17th century.

By the 18th century, work on the landscape turned the bog into a lake, and trees were planted. In 1826, a suspension bridge — a new engineering feat — was built over the river. In the mid-19th century, the third Earl of Rosse (the family had obtained a title) built the largest reflecting telescope known at the time, which has been restored. In the early 20th century, the fifth Earl sponsored plant exploration trips, and the results of those endeavors can be seen on the grounds in uncommon trees and shrubs. Then, in the 1930s, the sixth Earl and his wife (who was from a well-known horticultural family in England, the Messels of Nyman), created the formal gardens known as the Cloisters (now also called the Millennium Gardens). Neatly trimmed hornbeams form cathedral-like windows and a scrolly white bench sits against a tall hedge. The seventh Earl and his family continue the tradition, making Birr a fine garden and much more.

Written by  Marty Wingate.

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Birr Castle Demesne is located in Co. Offaly.

Birr Castle Demesne is located in Co. Offaly.

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